PRINCE PROTÉGÉE: TAMAR DAVIS
COVER STORY: TAMAR DAVIS
By Teryl Warren
For decades, Houston, Texas has been known for its NASA Space Center. But thanks to the powerhouse vocals of Beyoncé, gospel star Yolanda Adams and multi-talented entertainer Tamar Davis, it’s now known for cranking out some of the most influential women’s voices in recent memory.
Long before she wowed audiences on season 10 of NBC’s hit singing competition series The Voice, Tamar Davis was making childhood music memories on stage with Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland in the group Girl’s Tyme.
But despite enjoying success at the local level as well as a stint on the iconic series Star Search, Tamar admits that it wasn’t until much later that she actually considered pursuing singing as a career.
“I knew that I wanted to do it for a living in 2004,” she shared. “I was singing back-up for Tamia on her Bride and First Lady Tour and working with choreographer Fatima Robinson. And I noticed how everyone would react whenever I improvised something interesting during rehearsal. I saw how people would gravitate toward my talent and intuitiveness, so I received their encouragement and decided to move forward.”
And she didn’t just “move forward” – she rocketed straight into the entertainment industry stratosphere.
First stop: Minneapolis. While just a teen, Tamar’s voice had found it’s way onto the radar of literal rock royalty, when her demo landed in the hands of none other than Prince, himself. She scored an invitation to his hallowed Paisley Park studios, but didn’t get a chance to meet him. But she didn’t give up, either, and, instead, she went on to study music business at the University of Southern California. But after scoring an invitation to one of Prince’s house parties, she seized her opportunity, introduced herself and auditioned on the spot. Prince remembered hearing her demo in the past, and in 2005, Tamar and Prince both signed with Universal Records on the same day.
But she soon realized that the provocative Prince of Purple Rain fame had evolved – personally, spiritually and artistically. To Tamar, he was simply “Uncle Prince.”
“He was so giving, and he loved that I was so green about his past. He protected me from that side of him. He was very respectful of my parents, he went to my brother’s basketball tournament and sat in the stands with my family,” she laughed. “I was never star-struck with him. He liked Frappuccinos, I liked Frappucinos. Everything about him was just normal to me.”
But beyond the personal, familial ties, Prince and Tamar would go on to record and perform together, as well. Tamar sang the co-lead vocals on Prince’s Grammy-nominated song “Beautiful, Loved and Blessed” from his 2006 album, 3121 and on backup vocals throughout the album; and she performed with him in both small venues up and down the Eastern Seabord, as well as to massive audiences on Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America and The Brit Awards in 2006.
Next stop: Atlanta. Shortly after touring and performing with Prince, Tamar landed multiple acting gigs with prolific writer/producer/director Tyler Perry.
‘Working with Tyler Perry in 2008 dealt me the first blow of my adulthood because the tour I was set to go on got canceled the day I was supposed to fly out,” she told us. “But that disappointment taught me that I can’t let external events impact my emotions. It helped me take the reins on my emotions and embrace a balanced life. I learned to appreciate my down time as really my time to create.”
Rebounding from that initial letdown, Tamar would go on to be cast in several Tyler Perry plays including The Marriage Counselor, Laugh to Keep from Crying, Madea’s Big Happy Family and A Madea Christmas. And each experience was something that she cherishes – both professionally and personally. “Tyler Perry is full of hilariously funny energy,” she recalled. “I wanted to be at that theater every day. I used to always get nervous whenever he’d come into the theater. That man is a genius. He’s got huge vision, and he’s so great to work with.”
And, finally, Primetime: Tyler Perry was in the house to support her in 2016 when Tamar emerged from the shadows of the background and found her home squarely in the spotlight while auditioning for NBC’s hit competition series The Voice. Her rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” was an inspiration to all four judges, and judges Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera both vied for Tamar to join their team. Choosing Christina as her celebrity mentor, Tamar went on to become a fan favorite of the show as she showcased her powerful stage presence and varied vocal ability week after week.
“Being a contestant on The Voice was such an amazing experience,” she recalled. “I didn’t think I’d leave the show so early, but it was a great experience. Every single person had amazing energy, and every day, I looked forward to going to wardrobe and sitting in the makeup chair. I didn’t have to be involved with every aspect, I was able to just be an artist and I was thankful for that.”
When you work with icons, some of their magic is bound to rub off. And these days, in addition to performing, Tamar is seeking out opportunities to not only create, but to also mentor and give back. Her candid advice to emerging artists looking to find their way? ““You have to respect your craft and hone in on it, and always remember you’re the light while the world is getting darker. Operate in your purpose. Because when you do, you have no time to think about or compete with anyone else.”
After performing at a bevy of Super Bowl 51 events in her native Houston, TX, Tamar’s headed straight to Los Angeles where she will headline a Prince Tribute at the 9th Annual Moja Moja Pre-Grammy Brunch that will also feature GRAMMY Award nominee, certified chef and saucier Kelis (Milkshake), Prince’s DJ Rashida and songstresses Sidibe and Alex Isley.
As with any of Tamar’s performances, attendees at the Moja Moja Brunch can expect an electrifying experience. It’s something, she says, she learned from Uncle Prince.
“Make timeless records, and make sure you have a killer live show,” he told her. ” “If you have a killer live show, you will have people in the palm of your hand.”
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